Thompson’s Station is poised for a radical transformation in the next three years, with approximately 2,500 homes slated for development, in the area near the small Williamson County town.
Brentwood’s Chad Ferrari is among those spearheading the growth. Though there are plenty of developers seated at the Nashville area’s proverbial planning table, at 29 years old Ferrari is arguably one of the youngest.
“The majority of people who do what I do are older,” he said.
Part of the Thompson’s Station development will include 86 acres of office, commercial and residential space created by Ferrari and his company, Ferrari Partners, LP.
This isn’t Ferrari’s first project, and it won’t be his last.
Ferrari Partners currently owns about 500 acres of land in Williamson County, valued at between $40 and $50 million, as well as commercial real estate holdings —including the J.C. Bradford Building — downtown.
Co-founded in 1997 by Ferrari and his father, Keith Ferrari, the self-funded Ferrari Partners has been profitable from the outset, Ferrari said, requiring no outside investors. Starting out, the company had nearly $5 million in assets. It’s grown to include $60 to $70 million total, including $20 million in commercial real estate and $40 to $50 million in land.
The younger Ferrari became involved with the firm’s day-to-day operations in 2000. At the time, he wasn’t sure he wanted a full-time career in commercial real estate, but he caught the bug in 2001 after completing his first major transaction – the sale of a Franklin office building and subsequent $6 million purchase of the J.C. Bradford building in downtown Nashville, now home to Country Music Television (CMT).
The company’s revenues last year were between $5 and $7 million — most of it coming from leases, including several tracts of land leased to cell phone companies. Ferrari tries to hold on to farmland and save it for development.
The seven-employee company is based in Franklin. Ferrari and his wife, Brandi, and seven-month-old son, Denon, live in Brentwood.
Much of the partnership’s asset growth has stemmed from Ferrari’s growing involvement in land development, and the massive increases in Williamson County property values since 2000. Ferrari says he has seen parcels owned by his company triple or even quintuple in value since he first acquired them.
Though Ferrari Partners started out with a focus on commercial real estate, the firm currently owns just two Tennessee buildings – the J.C. Bradford building downtown, which is currently up for sale at an unpublished asking price, as well as a small industrial warehouse in LaVergne.
The company also owns some office and residential space in Illinois.
“It’s been a great time to sell things, so we’ve been kind of shifting out of our commercial stuff,” Ferrari said. “There’s so much new money coming into town that I think you’re seeing a lot of local investors take note of [Nashville].”
The company’s land development activities have ascended to prominence, Ferrari said.
Ferrari Partners is in the preliminary stages of working on a development in north Williamson County. Another development in its initial stages is in Rutherford County, near Murfreesboro and County Highway 99, and consists of 70 acres of land Ferrari Partners hopes to develop into residential space.
But currently occupying much of Ferrari’s mental energies is the 86-acre development near Thompson’s Station, at State Route 840 and U.S. 31. The space is poised to become part of a large retail, residential and office development similar to Indian Lake Village in Goodlettsville. The property has been zoned as urban space, and Ferrari Partners is currently reviewing concept plans with the city.
The Ferrari development will likely include two large stores – including, possibly, a grocery store – as well as a central area with a feel similar to a town center. That area will probably consist of two-story structures, with retail on the first floor and residential or office space upstairs.
Approximately 2,500 homes are planned nearby, including 900 in Tollgate Village, 1,100 in the Fields of Canterbury and 500 in Bridgemore.
The entire area is approximately five miles away from downtown Franklin, and home prices will be in roughly the same range. Home prices will likely start at $250,000 for condos, up to $800,000 for larger homes.
The mixed-use development model is becoming more popular locally – as in Indian Lake Village, as well as Westhaven in Williamson County.
The space near Thompson’s Station will include features like green areas, fountains, parks, and integrated landscaping – features that buyers in Franklin proper would need to pay much more for. Ferrari said developments like this are part of being in an area where residential developers are fighting for buyers.
“The more little bells and whistles they can add to their development that will maybe get the buyer that’s on the fence, they’re going to do it,” Ferrari said. “I think it makes for a better development.”
A challenge for Ferrari Partners in the area has been preserving the town’s historic, pastoral feel, and involving local residents and officials in creating a livable area. Ferrari said the objective is to capture the history of Thompson’s Station, who the original owners were, why it’s called Thompson’s Station.
“I think it’s incredibly important,” Ferrari said. “If it wasn’t something that kind of helped the process, we’d do it anyway. We feel that we have a great opportunity to do something incredible with the development.”
As a young developer, Ferrari says he has benefited the guidance of mentors including several local entrepreneurs willing to share their knowledge. He has also learned a great deal from his father as well as his late grandfather, Robert Ferrari, who impressed upon him the importance of ensuring the quality of projects with one’s name attached.
“You want it to be something that you’re extremely proud of. In a way, it’s a legacy that you pass on to future generations,” Ferrari said. “People who have been successful in real estate, I think they kind of enjoy passing the torch a little bit. You learn a lot from that.”